Václav Havel, who led Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution, discussed events at that time and developments since on Thursday, at his only public appearance ahead of the revolution’s 20th anniversary. The former president told reporters from around the world that 20 years ago no one knew when change was going to come, but people did sense that “something was in the air”.
One of the biggest events in Prague after the fall of communism was a now-legendary concert by the Rolling Stones at Strahov Stadium in 1990. They were received afterwards at Prague Castle by President Václav Havel, who became quite friendly with the band. Now 20 years later, the Rolling Stones leader Mick Jagger is coming back to the city – he’s one of a number of famous artists playing at a special concert organised by Mr Havel. Another big event marking the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution will be a recreation of the student demonstration
One of the most passionate debates in Czechoslovakia in the first years after the fall of communism was over what to do with people who had collaborated with the secret police – the StB – or had held prominent functions in the Communist Party. In 1991 the so-called “screening law” was passed, under which former StB collaborators were prevented from holding certain senior posts – for example in academia or in the civil service. At the time Radio Prague invited two Czech politicians into the studio: the left-of-centre member of the Federal Parliament,
The 19th century Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin is especially important to two particular countries: his father’s homeland of France, where he lived and died, and Poland, where he was born and raised. It is the Czech Republic though that is first to display an item of great importance to Chopin devotees and Poles in general: as a prelude to 2010 as the Year of Chopin, his funeral mask has come to Prague, where it will be on display for the first time outside of Poland.
How are countries of central and Eastern Europe coping with their communist legacies? Have their societies done well in the transition to democracy over the last two decades? And why do so many people in this region feel nostalgic towards the totalitarian past? And in what ways is the Czech Republic different from other ex-communist states countries in the region? These and other issues were the focus of an international conference “20 Years After” that took place in Prague last week.
With the fall of communism, it was not long before foreign investors began taking an interest in Czechoslovakia. This ranged from huge industrial multinationals to young college graduates, who arrived in Prague with backpacks in the early 1990s, and happened to spot a business opportunity. Many burned their fingers; some made a quick buck and disappeared, and others settled down and stayed here for good. In 1991, Radio Prague interviewed a few of these pioneering investors.
An official history of the British counter intelligence and security service MI5 has come up with some revelations about the work of the Communist Czechoslovak secret police. One of them is how it recruited agents among British Labour Party MPs. One of its biggest catches was a colourful and ambitious junior minister.
2009 marks several important anniversaries for the Czech Republic; one we have not heard so much about is the 100th anniversary of the cinema house. The place in question is Prague’s Lucerna Palace, which screened its first film on December 3rd, 1909, and is still today the most popular single-screen cinema in the country.
This week in Mailbox: the mystery lady from September’s quiz is revealed and we find out the names of the four winners who will receive small gifts from Radio Prague for their correct answers. Also, you get a unique chance to share your memories of the tumultuous events of 1989 with all our listeners around the globe. Listeners quoted: Uday I. Nayak, Kristina Pletková, Colin Law, Jason Meader, S. J. Agboola, David Eldridge, Hiroshi Katayama, Charles Konecny, Richard Chen, Constantin Liviu Viorel, Daniel Gutierrez, Hans Verner Lollike.